Half a year of Chicagolina.
We are commemorating 6 months this weekend. It has been six months since we said goodbye to the only home that KK, Miranda, and I have ever known, the home where our family was created, and left for our new life.

I’ve told this story so many times, but I’ve never written it, and now that I am, it looks so much different than it did before. Here goes:

The introductory facts:
– On August 5, 2009, just weeks after the first Branson Gospel Music Revival, Rod was ‘severanced out’ of his full time job. We were given a financially secure opportunity to pursue full time ministry, though we were a little unsure what it would look like. We thought it would involve more events like BGMR, growing BGMR, starting a record label, growing a publication, and growing Rod’s solo career and the group he was getting ready to tour with. We thought we’d move to Branson, MO or Nashville, TN, and took a few months to decide.

– On May 1, 2010, Rod and I put our house in Homewood, IL up for sale. We had decided Nashville was the place. A few weeks later, Rod left the group he was singing with. BGMR had a great year, but not one quite how we expected.

– By the end of the year, we’d had many people look at our house, but no offers. We were still pursuing all the other avenues, but we were also both applying for more conventional jobs in order to support our family. I had resigned myself to the idea that maybe it wasn’t time to move yet. Chicago had one of the worst housing markets in the country, and I was pretty comfortable in our church and the lovely circle of friends and homeschool buddies we had.

The signs
During December of 2010, Rod was put back in touch with a man whose company we had worked for in the late 90s. In fact, it was the company that had brought Rod from Ohio to Chicago. Glenn was opening a theater in Myrtle Beach and thought it would be fun to have Rod sing there some time. They talked a bit more and decided we should get together for lunch and catch up.

20111118-111850.jpg On the night of December 29, I finished reading the novel Fly Away Home by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner. Her books always involve some kind of coming together at The Beach. The Beach is almost like a character in her stories. It offers her other characters a place to commune, find sanctuary, find themselves.

I grew up in the Midwest, and while we weren’t far from Lake Michigan, I didn’t belong to a beach-going family. So while I had some fond memories of the beach – a few lake outings with my cousins when I was a kid, our honeymoon in Hawaii, and our first family-of-5 vacation (to Myrtle Beach) in 2007, I had never cared much about it one way or the other.

But as I closed the book that night – the night before we were having lunch with Glenn – I had a big warm fuzzy about The Beach. The story of Fly Away Home is a bittersweet one, involving failed and reconciled relationships. I enjoyed reading it, and my favorite parts were those describing the solace and home that the main character, the matriarch, found at an old family beach house.

So I closed the book, on a night in the midst of one of the worst winters I can remember, looked at my husband, and said these words:

Why are we moving to Nashville?…It’s just as cold there as it is here. But when it snows there, everything shuts down. We’d be trapped in the house half the winter. Why can’t WE move to The Beach?

Rod kind of laughed, as he does at half the off-the-cuff things I say. And we went to sleep under our down comforter.

The next day, we had lunch with Glenn. Turned out that in the 10ish years since we’d known him, his life had changed even more than ours had. (That’s his story to tell). We hadn’t known anything about where he’d been nor did he about us. But Rod and I drove away from that lunch with a sense of bewildering wonder –

We knew we were going to Myrtle Beach to run that theater.

It wasn’t exactly a roll downhill from there. Glenn was still working out the road to get there. For a few months, every time Rod’s cell rang, I was jumping out of my skin, sometimes actually calling out, Is this the call, Lord? It wasn’t that I was in a hurry to leave my home and my loved ones, but I was anxious to get to what’s next. I know God creates holding patterns for us as well as seasons of much business, but as the weeks went on, I was quickened. I was sick of being stagnant. And so, when the call came toward the end of April, we were ready. Our house was rented out. Our peace was made. And by May 20, we were here.

End of story, right?
Of course not. I’m not even sure that was the beginning of the story. The script has gone off in places that this lover and student of stories never saw coming. And it’s not a choose-your-own-adventure kind of tale. Nope. Rod and I are being led, taught, directed. The Burtons Who Kick Down The Doors, the people some of you applauded for starting a new thing, have been told to be still, shut up, listen, wait.

We struggle with it. Daily.

(And if you are trying to read between the lines, it’s still the same stuff…we are still employed by the theater, but it’s not opening in the timeframe we expected, and living through that is unstable and tough in a myriad of ways).

That said… we are happy. We are happy in our souls, because all this sunshine and fresh air and saltwater makes us (especially me, we agree) feel alive in ways we never have before. Our kids are growing, are content, are settled. We are grateful, because we haven’t replaced the relationships we left behind; they have continued. We have started new ones, though, and they have been our anchors through some dark days. And we are healthy. Rod’s overall health is better. Kaity’s asthma has barely been a blip. Randa is less of a couch potato. I finally seem to have found the motivation to get fit. Being here is good for us

even though it’s not easy
or simple
or what we thought.
even though we don’t know what’s next.
even though we don’t know all the WHYs yet
even though it’s hard for me to talk about, so sometimes I don’t return the calls (I’m sorry)
even though,
even so…

I thought closing the cover of that novel on the eve of beginning our new chapter was a great story.

Turns out it’s not a story at all… it’s just a sign or wonder on the way to figuring out what our story is.

I know when my story is nearing its conclusion, I will likely look back at this itty-bitty chapter as pivotal, but small…difficult, but nurturing. So I’m going to get a head start being grateful for it.

Happy Six Months to the Chicagolina Burtons.

Reminder: You have until midnight tomorrow, Monday, 11/21, to go here and tell me what you are ‘ever grateful’ for, for a chance to win a $20 gift from DaySpring!